Welcome to Advisory Board, a weekly department in which a panel of experts—made up of entrepreneurs and professionals—answer questions you have about how to run your business better.
This week, a reader asks:
“We’ve just hired a new employee and I’m not sure she’s working out. What warning signs should I look for in her probationary period?”
Here’s what the experts have to say:
“The best advice I’ve ever received about human resources was from my university professor, Dr. Julian Barling, who said hire for attitude, train for everything else. Ultimately, values and attitudes are hard to change so if you start seeing signs that your employee’s attitude doesn’t fit with your corporate culture in the honeymoon period, it’s a warning sign. Cut your losses and invest your time in someone else.”
—Phoebe Fung, proprietor, Vin Room and VR Wine, Calgary
“The rule we live by is fire fast, hire slow. As diligent as you may be with the interview process, some candidates will impress you during Q&A then quickly disappoint in day-to-day performance. If your gut is telling you the new hire is not the right fit, it’s the best warning sign. Others to watch for in the probationary period: does the person you hire embody the same values as the company and its employees? It’s great to have different points of views, but every team member should operate with a similar set of values. Is the new hire showing an eagerness to learn and evolve into the new role? The first three months involve a lot of learning—everything from daily performance requirements to your people, culture and systems. A willingness to learn, adapt and contribute is an essential sign that you have hired someone who interested in a future with your company. Lastly, is the person you hired contributing new ideas, sharing experiences and applying core skill sets to advance the team? For SMEs this is particularly important, as resources are limited and each hire is likely required to perform above a given job description or sometimes carry a broader role.”
—Jennifer Maloney, co-founder and principal, Yulu Public Relations Inc., Vancouver
“If you already have concerns those are likely the only warning signs you need. A probationary period is like a first date; your new colleague should be doing everything possible to impress you. If it’s a matter of not knowing the role, that, of course, comes with time but if the hire is making repeated mistakes and are arriving late or showing a lack of engagement, I assure you that won’t get better over time.”
—Shannon Bowen-Smed, president & CEO, BOWEN, Calgary
“Warning sign number one: when you ask yourself the question ‘Whatever happened to the person that I hired?’ People can present very well in interviews yet often the person who shows up for work is totally different than the person you interviewed. Go back and examine the reasons why you brought the person on board in the first place, and ask yourself if they are matching up to the reality. Warning sign number two: they are not a team player. Look at how well they are working with other people. Warning sign number three: disappointing work habits. Do they demonstrate the work habits that you expected? Are they watching the clock mid-morning, looking for a break? Do they arrive for work on time? Leave early? Are they performing the job that they were hired to do, or are you getting more excuses than results?”
—John Wilson, founder and CEO, CEO Global Network, Toronto
Do you have a question you’d like answered? Email us and we’ll put it to the experts.
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